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Political Scenario In U.P.:CIVIC POLL REFORMS NEEDED, by Insaf,15 November 2006 Print E-mail

Round The States

New Delhi, 15 November 2006

Political Scenario In U.P.


By Insaf

The recent civic polls in U.P. have attracted greater political attention than such exercises normally do at the national level.  Held as these were in the run-up to the crucial Assembly elections early next year, the results and voting trends were significant for all political parties and so also accusation of widespread rigging.  These left the Samajwadi Party Government of Mulayam Singh vulnerable to an opposition clamour for a Bihar-type multi-phased Assembly election to avoid a repeat of violence and rigging.  Even the Governor, T.V. Rajeshwar, sent a report to the Union Home Ministry, castigating the role of the Government for the poll violence and the way the election schedules were worked out.  The report even led the opposition parties to demand that the Assembly poll be held under Central rule.  Union Minister of State for Home Jaiswal publicly hinted at such a possibility.

These developments clearly call for the need for reforms in the conduct of local body elections in the States, especially when there is increasing movement towards decentralization of governance. The elections for the local bodies are presently conducted by the State Governments which have its own Election Commissioners and officers at the local level. Now that the local elections are being fought on party basis and much importance attaches to them for wielding power at the grassroots, they too need to be conducted by the Election Commission to ensure a free and fair poll and avoid a repeat of what came to pass recently in U.P.  Importantly, successive Chief Election Commissioners have advocated strengthening the Election Commission both at the Centre and in the States and providing it the wherewithal to conduct free and fair polls at all levels. However, these suggestions have not yet received the attention they deserve in the interest of a truly representative democracy.

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States Oppose Police Reforms

Most States have expressed difficulty in complying with the Supreme Court order on Police reforms before December 31.  The apex Court had in its judgment on September 22 last directed the Centre and the State Governments to implement police reforms based on recommendations of several panels, especially the National Police Commission. The Court had suggested the Constitution of a National Security Commission at the Centre and a similar body in the States, a mechanism to weed out political interference in the appointment of DGPs and heads of para-military organizations, a fixed tenure for the DGPs and senior officers, separation of investigations from the police wing involved in the maintenance of law and order and setting up of Police Establishment Boards and Police Complaints Authorities.

At a meeting convened by the Union Home Secretary in New Delhi on Tuesday, the Chief Secretaries and DGPs from the States agreed with the Centre to push for the police reforms as directed by the Supreme Court. But most of them put forward their problems in meeting the Court’s deadline of 31 December for various reasons. Generally, the officers from the States told the Centre that the reforms could not be undertaken because of shortage of personnel in their police forces and the wide-ranging duties they were required to perform on the law and order front.  The real reason for their opposition to reforms, however, stems from the politicians.  They do not want to let go their influence, indeed de facto control, over the police force especially at the local level.

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Amarinder’s Vikas Yatra In Punjab

It is back-to-the-people time for the Punjab politicians in the run-up to the Assembly polls about three months away now. Leading the Congress campaign, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh undertook a three-day “Vikas Yatra” (some call it “Road Shows)” across the State over the week-end along with his official paraphernalia.  He managed to reach out to a large number of people, even in the Akali bastion of Malwa region.  He mingled with the people, heard their grievances against his administration and in some cases dictated orders for on-the-spot settlement of their demands, including sanction of power connections to the farmers. Of great interest was the manner in which the erstwhile Maharaja mingled with the people, ate his lunch sitting atop a sand dune, conversing with bare-bodied farmers and administering polio drops to the children on Sunday last.  The idea was not only to propagate the “strides” Punjab has made under his Government but translate the feel good factor into votes.

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Karunakaran’s DIC Merges With NCP

Veteran 88-year-old leader from Kerala, K. Karunakaran is back to active national politics. After an unceremonious exit from the Congress and desertion by the CPM, his one-year-old tearaway outfit, Democratic Indira Congress (DIC) has now finally merged with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) of Sharad Pawar. The merger terms are that he will be involved in the NCP’s politics at the national level, will back the ruling Left Front in Kerala and be an ally of the UPA at the Centre.  In other words, both the Congress and the CPM will have to live with him. Initially, the CPM, which leads the Left Front Government in Kerala, had opposed the DIC’s merger with the NCP, presently an ally of the ruling Front. Karunakaran has described the merger as a “reunion of parties having the Congress culture and tradition”.

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Terror Continues Unabated In Kashmir

Terrorism by Pakistan-backed militant outfits continues unabated in Kashmir. Barely three days prior to the Foreign Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan, it struck the Valley on Friday last. A grenade attack on a religious congregation in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district killed at least five people and left about 40 badly injured.  The attack has set a new trend. The militants hire a local youth for a one time action at a price. In this case it was just Rs.1,000 for throwing on the congregation the grenade handed over to him. According to the Pulwama DIG, the attack was aimed at creating panic among the followers of Barailvi school of thought.  Some terror outfits are opposed to this school which encourages shrine worship and teaches secularism. On the same day, another grenade was thrown at a CRPF picket at Hanuman Mandir in Srinagar. Eight people were injured in this attack.

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Goa’s Higher Education Plan

Tiny Goa may soon become an international education centre, if a plan just drawn up by the State Government is faithfully implemented.  The public sector Education Development Corporation for promoting higher education in the State is developing an educational estate at Verna in south Goa. It is in the process of acquiring land for the proposed estate.  The plan is to develop the entire infrastructure, including common facilities at the estate and then to attract reputed national and international higher educational institutions to set up their branches. The Corporation is presently finalizing the entire proposal of infrastructure development to seek Government funds in the coming State budget for 2007-08. The project already has the blessing of Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane.

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Commonwealth Boon for Haryana

Delhi’s Commonwealth Games-2010 have now become the buzzword in neighbouring Haryana too. The State Government is cashing in on the hospitality boom. It has identified a major chunk of land around the Union Capital Region (NCR) for building budget and star hotels.  It is estimated that a total of abut 400 acres of land may be put on the block. The hotel project is proposed to be handed over to the public-private partnerships.  Seeing the boom in the hospitality business, the State Government has already started auctioning hotel plots in Gurgaon. It has also offered to the Games organizers help for building Games infrastructure in Delhi.  In fact, this plan may ultimately end up with the creation of a “tourism economic zone” close to the Union capital.---INFA

 (Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)

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